Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats


LITERARY    LIFE
writings were either banned or greatly depreciated by the court critics at one time or another. They had that personal style of writing or of thought which orthodox scholars regarded as friendly to radical thought and dangerous to morality.
VI. LITERATURE AND POLITICS
It is natural that the bondage of language has brought with it the bondage of thought. The literary language was dead, so dead that it could not express an exact thought. It always lost itself in vague generalities. Brought up amidst such generalities, with a total lack of discipline in logical reasoning, Chinese scholars often displayed an extreme childishness of argument. This disparity between thought and literature brought about a situation where thought and literature were regarded as having no relation with one another.
This brings us to the relation between literature and politics. In order to understand Chinese politics^ one should understand Chinese literature. Perhaps one should here avoid the word literature (wmhsuch] and speak of bdUs-httm (wenehang)* This worship of belles-lettres as such has become a veritable mania in the nation. This is clearest in modern public statements, whether of a student body, a commercial concern, or a political party. In issuing such public statements, the first thought is how to make them nice-sounding, how to word them beautifully. And the first thought of a newspaper reader is whether such statements read nicely or not. Such statements almost always say nothing, but almost always say it beautifully. A palpable lie is praised if it is told in good form.
This has led to a type of belles-lettres which, when translated into Englishj seems extremely silly. Thus in a comparatively recent statement by an important political party we read: "Whoever violates our national sovereignty and Invades our territory, we will drive them out! Whoever endangers the peace of the world, we will stop them! We are determined. . . . We are resolved to exert our utmost . . . We must unite together. ..." A modern public would refuse to accept such a statement. They would require a more exact